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We describe a method for the experimental characterization of intrinsic switching field distributions in perpendicular media. The method is based upon a comparison between the major loop and a set of recoil loops, which start at a certain distance ΔM away from saturation. In particular, we measure the applied field difference ΔH between the recoil loops and the major loop at identical M values, for which the average demagnetizing fields are the same. By analyzing complete ΔH(M,ΔM) data sets taken from multiple recoil loops, we gain a detailed measure of the intrinsic switching field distribution D(HS). Using polar-Kerr effect measurements of recording disk samples, we demonstrate the capabilities of our approach.